By Mariam Bayo
The Rainier Beach neighborhood has had its own set of trauma and experiences. From gentrification to gun violence, the people in our community need space to talk about those experiences. We must acknowledge what the people in our community are going through by being able to hold space. It is significant because it shows that other people in the neighborhood are looking out for each other, being in space together and that space being provided for them by local organizations in the neighborhood.
We have been able to hold space in the community by having community building circles. These circles are only a small branch of the tree. There are many kinds of circles but community building circles are just one of them. Community building circles use traditional structure & formats to create a respectful space where all interested community members can speak in a shared search for understanding and talking about the interest at hand. The circle process is not simply a process for just talking, but also getting to know each other on a more personal level. It exercises the vulnerability a person can express as well as how well they listen and respect one another. This process brings folks together in a circle that allows exploration of the interests and the topic of the circle. The circle process allows full expression of emotions and channels the energy of those emotions toward positive connections and conversations. Circles draw on the life experiences of all the participants and creates a great connection and conversation.
The Restorative Resolutionz team has been able to successfully keep circles since the beginning of the year. The types of circles include community building circles and conflict resolution circles. A circle series has been established and executed since July. A circle has been kept every week since the beginning of July and has continued through the month of August. Some of the topics of circles have been fatherhood, Black queens connect:discussing the workplace experience, mastering my melanin, culture, and intergenerational relationships. There is much appreciation to know space is being held in the Rainier Beach community, Places like the Rainier Beach Community Center plaza, the RBAC office have been spaces we have used to hold circles. The purpose of having these circles is to be physically present and hold space for those in the community. It is essential that we prioritize the people in this neighborhood, and that includes having space for folks to share their experiences and listening to understand what they have gone through and what they are currently going through.